Merit - SCUP Excellence in Architecture for Building Additions, Renovation or Adaptive Reuse

Drexel University

Korman Center
Drexel University - Korman Center
Jury Comments
“. . . simple little plan with a huge impact . . . campus center itself that has an iconic result . . . makes a significant improvement to their campus . . . exemplary example of a deft, light touch achieving complete transformation . . . stormwater management achieved is especially impressive . . . prioritization of landscape and building achieves results . . .”


    • Site – 45,000 sq ft / Building – 3,500 sq ft (addition) / 10,7000 sq ft (renovation) / 45,000 sq ft (façade + roof)
    • The addition includes student study, lounge and common spaces, and a multi-purpose event space.
    • The addition replaces an unwelcoming opaque brick wall with an open and transparent “front porch” and glass curtainwall, visible from three primary circulation routes.
    • The open, light-filled study and lounge spaces foster transparency and collaboration.
    • The design of the Korman Center activates and engages with the open space of the quad.
    • The building and quad were renovated simultaneously, allowing the design of each to be integrated with the other.


The initial program was to create a student study lounge and help create a new identity for an aging building. The small addition, accomplished with a modest budget, helped completely reinvigorate the center of campus. It has made visible and tangible what had formerly been mostly a matter of geography “that the quad is the academic center and heart of the undergraduate campus. The impact on the campus and on student life is so much bigger than its size and budget suggest.”

This addition and renovation to the former 1958 University Library was carried out in three phases: an enabling project, the addition, and performance and aesthetic upgrades to the existing building. The enabling project allowed for the construction of the addition to occur while the remainder of the building was occupied. Construction of the addition and adjacent quad renovation took place simultaneously. Following the completion of the addition, new curtain walls, mechanical screen, and roofing upgrades were installed on the existing building.

The new Korman Center directly addresses three of the University Master Plan’s four primary principles: (1) distinguish Drexel’s campus as a vibrant modern university district, (2) bring the campus to the street, and (3) draw the community together around shared places. With its modern façade of white terracotta baguettes, visible from multiple vantage points in the city, the new Korman Center distinguishes the campus as a vibrant modern university district. The visibility of the screen and “front porch” brings the campus to the street and draws the community into the renovated Academic Quad. The screen protects the interiors from heat gain and glare. The mix of new lounges, study areas, and private collaboration rooms encourages engagement of students and staff members. As a new hub for the university, the building serves the community by creating a new place to meet and collaborate, allowing ideas, concepts, and sense of identity to be fostered.

Project Team

Gluckman Tang Architects; also Dimitri J. Ververelli, Inc.; Keast & Hood; Simpson Gumpertz & Heger; Flux Studio; Lerch Bates & Associates;